Re: Tortured

1

'What if we like, you know, blindfolded him and shoved his head in a cage and shoved a rubber rat in with him?'

'Dude! Richard Gere, man, Richard Gere! But we use a hamsterball!'

See? That's the problem with these people. All they wanted to do was vicious painful stuff, ya know, like they got off on it. They never wanted to get really creative.

'Dude! He's a fundamentalist Muslim! We'get some really hot porn stars and have them like do the whole nine yards in front of him for like hours! We'll use rotating porn stars! Either he'll break down and beg us to stop, or he'll beg to join in! Either way we win!'

max
['But no. They gotta go with the old skool Soviet thing.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 8:30 PM
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When Noriega was holed up in an embassy they blasted him out with loud rock music.

If you Google "Noriega", you'll get a "Noriega rock music" prompt. Stories differ, too, if anyone cares.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 8:41 PM
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'Dude! He's a fundamentalist Muslim! We'get some really hot porn stars and have them like do the whole nine yards in front of him for like hours! We'll use rotating porn stars! Either he'll break down and beg us to stop, or he'll beg to join in! Either way we win!'

I thought they did something like this in Abu Ghraib, except instead of really hot porn stars it was prison guards. Same concept though...


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 8:45 PM
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Enhanced Interrogation Scenario: Interrogator does coke and conducts sex scene involving Interrogator and whatever Interrogator wants


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 9:24 PM
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This was on Slate 4 years ago:

Other alleged tactics include giving prisoners forced enemas, blasting them with rap and heavy metal, and making them listen to a looped tape of the Meow Mix cat food jingle for hours on end. (How long could you take it? Click here.)

Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 10:19 PM
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except instead of really hot porn stars it was prison guards.

No, they just skipped the temptation and went straight to the (sado-masochist fetish-style) rape.

If I were actually trying to interrogate someone in that situation, I shouldn't need to hurt them, engage in the aggressive physical endurance tactics or for that matter, humiliate them. If you're going to fuck with somebody to get information out of them, you fuck with their heads, not their bodies; to fuck with their heads you need them conscious and alert. You can treat them perfectly decently and get all the info you want, if you're patient.

max
['Ah, well, we lost that one.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 10:29 PM
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From the Times article:

Some senior Obama administration officials, including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., have labeled one of the 14 approved techniques, waterboarding, illegal torture. The United States prosecuted some Japanese interrogators at war crimes trials after World War II for waterboarding and other methods detailed in the memos.

And yet we can't call it unambiguously torture or a war crime today. Meanwhile, the long process of revealing officially what has long been known unofficially in such a way as to mute any attempts at any sort of public accountability is almost over. It's all history now; no point in dwelling on it. Just a terrible mistake - that's why pencils have erasers, you know?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 10:30 PM
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7: any sort of public accountability is almost over

And somewhere in the shadows a junior member of the Nixon Bush administration is taking mental note and learning the lesson well so that 30 years hence when he is VP, nuthin's going to get written down.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 10:37 PM
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The way Obama has been undoing things, it doesn't seem like it would be very hard for a future administration to redo. This goes for his presidential records executive order as well, which revokes Bush's rules but could itself be revoked by the next president.*

*There's actually a bill to statutorily overturn Bush's presidential records order. It failed in the 110th Congress, when it would have been vetoed anyway, and then they passed it again in the House this session during that brief moment when there was a new Congress and an outgoing president. Action since then? Nothing.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 10:47 PM
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I feel like 9.2 raises the question of how 9.1 could be any different.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 10:48 PM
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And yet we can't call it unambiguously torture or a war crime today.

FWIW, CNN was on at the gym this evening (Anderson Cooper's show), and their graphic for the story was "CIA Torture".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 10:55 PM
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Good for CNN.

I suppose Obama could have asked for a law concerning presidential records instead of just doing an executive order. But he's a busy man. I don't think this is an issue that would fail to get 60 votes, but maybe not. The fact is, they're not even trying.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 11:31 PM
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Actually, now I see that the Senate has put the records bill on the calendar. So maybe something will happen.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 11:36 PM
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I've been checking google news's top ten "In The News" list today, and any mention of the torture memos has failed to crack it. Tea parties was there, earlier.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 11:41 PM
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Yahoo's been headlining the no prosecution (for some people, maybe everyone) aspect of the story on their front page.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 11:45 PM
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That was supposed to read "maybe not everyone", not "maybe everyone." Still some possibility of prosecution above the CIA officer level.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04-16-09 11:48 PM
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oh yeah, google news has it up top and front, but I think their "In he News" (i could be wrong) is the top stories people are reading/searching for.


Posted by: Michael | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 12:00 AM
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If you're going to fuck with somebody to get information out of them, you fuck with their heads, not their bodies...

As long as I'm dreaming, I wish we had some clear standards as to how much head-fucking is permissible too; I can imagine future technology allowing snowjobs to coerce confession that are much more sophisticated and problematic than just "your buddy's spilling," and there are probably plenty of actually-existing gray-area headfucks I don't know about, since my knowledge is drawn from cop shows.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 12:11 AM
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I wish we had some clear standards as to how much head-fucking is permissible too;

None, zero, zilch. Cops can talk to my lawyer with me out of the room, because I have nothing whatsoever to say to a cop or prosecutor, or in the presence of same.

Prisoners give name, rank, serial number.

What can you say at someone at Gitmo? "We're gonna kill your kids." or "We're gonna pu
t you and family in witness protection."

The assymetrical power relationship is primary and defines everything, and should not be exploited in any way. This goes outside detention, I don't like talking to cops or any authority figures, at my front door, in the park, at my car window. They can destroy my life at a whim. The coercion, extreme coercion is alway there, and is the entirety of the relationship.

Paranoid? Rahm Emmanuel or Dahlia Lithwick or Bill O'Reilly can destroy me. I won't answer their calls.

Umm, psychorant. But it pretty much explains my positions about interrogations and techniques. Forbidden entirely. Nada. Red Cross and lawyers.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 12:53 AM
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Paranoid? Rahm Emmanuel or Dahlia Lithwick or Bill O'Reilly can destroy me. I won't answer their calls.

You know the numbers when they show up on Caller ID? Or you recognize their voices and immediately hang up? Or you have your assistant manage it?

More seriously, I think people tend to underestimate the asymmetricality of the journalist/source relationship, or, at least, they tend to underestimate the degree to which journalists are taught to exploit that asymmetricality. So many realms that depend on fucking over before you're fucked over; I like to not live there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 1:00 AM
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Appending 20: I had to learn this the (not really in the scheme of things) hard way, at least when it comes to journalists. Really, you tear me apart and then you want to be friends? What is your job, exactly?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 1:00 AM
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Although, there are lots of jobs that depend on that sort of relationship; nonfiction essayist, actor, telemarketer, investment banker. Maybe those of us who can live external to the fuck-or-be-fucked are deluded, or really really lucky?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 1:01 AM
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bob: What can you say at someone at Gitmo? "We're gonna kill your kids." or "We're gonna pu
t you and family in witness protection."

Actually, what they did say, according to report, was "You're never going to see your kids again."


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 1:54 AM
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I think people tend to underestimate the asymmetricality of the journalist/source relationship, or, at least, they tend to underestimate the degree to which journalists are taught to exploit that asymmetricality.

Bizarre, paranoid rant with no basis in reality, betraying elevated sense of own importance.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 2:52 AM
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It is all about me, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 2:58 AM
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Anyhow I don't really think I'm wrong, nor do I really think it's bad; journalism is (or anyhow should be) all about convincing somebody to tell you something that they (for some reason or other) shouldn't. In this sense, it is a con, albeit a noble one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 3:01 AM
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It's not all about that, but it is an important part. Which is why one of the key journalistic skills is getting somebody more drunk than you are.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 4:42 AM
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24: Ajay's trying to turn this into something like that famous thread over at Henley's.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 5:04 AM
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19, 23 -- See US v. Jawad. I'm no fan of the MCA, but you have to respect the professionalism, in practice, of the military judges.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 5:37 AM
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I think people tend to underestimate the asymmetricality of the journalist/source relationship, or, at least, they tend to underestimate the degree to which journalists are taught to exploit that asymmetricality.

Hostile, friendly, sober, pissed, ...


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 6:25 AM
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journalism is (or anyhow should be) all about convincing somebody to tell you something that they (for some reason or other) shouldn't.

Cult of Watergate really gets its hooks in deep, doesn't it?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 6:29 AM
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Did you guys see this article on solitary confinement? It's pretty ghastly but super-interesting, but speaks to Max's head-fucking. Although it's mostly in the context of the tons of people rotting away in solitary in the US prison system, not people we're trying to interrogate.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 6:31 AM
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18: Technology already exists to detect deceptive intent. Functional MRI studies have shown that certain brain regions light up when you are about to tell a lie that do not when you are simply relating the facts as best you can recall. FMRI is clumsy and time consuming (not to mention absurdly expensive), but now that the essential facts have been established regarding the existence of robust patterns of neurological activity associated with lying it is probably not long before someone comes up with a simpler technique. In a generation or so we'll have neurological monitoring under interrogation routinely accepted by the courts.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 6:45 AM
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31: Care to make an actual point, ajay, as opposed to just sniping?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 6:46 AM
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And yet we can't call it unambiguously torture or a war crime today.

At this point, the media aren't covering up for the Bush administration, they are covering up for themselves. Every major news outlet has been complicit in torture by Americans because those outlets all deliberately set out to report it dishonestly.

My oft-repeated example of this was when newspapers reported that Obama had outlawed "harsh interrogation," as though interrogators would no longer speak harshly to prisoners. In fact, what Obama forbade was torture, but at this late date, the media can't report it because by doing so they would implicate themselves.

The Washington Post story this morning was bizarre in its effort to simultaneously report the news and downplay its import.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 6:58 AM
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22: Although, there are lots of jobs that depend on that sort of relationship; nonfiction essayist, actor, telemarketer, investment banker. Maybe those of us who can live external to the fuck-or-be-fucked are deluded, or really really lucky?

actor?


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:00 AM
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Penny!

Actor struck me as weird, too.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:08 AM
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In a generation or so we'll have neurological monitoring under interrogation routinely accepted by the courts.

We already have interrogation techniques that are not torture and work. Not that in fifty years we won't have better technology, but it's not like we were waterboarding because we just don't understand the technology yet. We were waterboarding because somebody wanted to be sadistic.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:14 AM
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39

Hi Sir Kraab! I'm always around, just having a year of feeling tongue-tied.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:19 AM
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Headfucking is not only unnecessary to get valuable information but is counterproductive, according to extremely experienced military interrogators.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:21 AM
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a year of feeling tongue-tied

I just googled "a year of" and the first result was "A Year of Crockpotting."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:25 AM
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The first result? Wow. I had no idea what other people do all year, obviously.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:35 AM
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41: A Year of Crockpotting was the proposed sequel to The Year of Living Dangerously, but it never made it past the treatment stage.

And interestingly, A Year of Pol Potting was the working title for The Killing Fields during pre-production.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:37 AM
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Looking at wikipedia, there doesn't seem to be any big non-anglophone countries who that term, or any with different words for salary and wage.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:45 AM
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I feel bad for laughing at 43.2. My first reaction should have been "Genocide is no laughing matter, young man."


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:47 AM
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44: What?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:47 AM
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Did you guys see this article on solitary confinement?

I had not. It was a fascinating read, but "ghastly" is an understatement. Geez.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:49 AM
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I feel bad for laughing at 43.2.

You should.

Monster.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:49 AM
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49

||
Apostropher, call your office.
|>


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:50 AM
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38: True, though I think that at least part of the motivation behind the torture was a mindset that thinks of all relationships between human beings in terms of domination/submission, which is a pretty common mindset on the right.

I think gadgets replacing people (even if they do a far worse job of it) is likely to happen anyway, simply due to the dynamics of government (people selling machines have lots of money to donate to/invest in political campaigns, whereas people opposed to them have much less), aided by a general perception of gadgets as more reliable (even when they aren't). It's the same dynamic that replaces perfectly good paper ballots with voting machines.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 7:59 AM
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Doctor Slack!


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:19 AM
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Hey Rob!


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:27 AM
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49: Speak of the devil!


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:32 AM
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it's a foreign pronunciation, of course, but khan does not mean exactly khan in my language, it's khaan (khagan, in old writing)
khan is like a prenoun, something to be used as an adjective, meaning grand, but not exactly an adjective or if khan khuu it's a prince
mountain names frequently has that 'adjective'


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:38 AM
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YOUR MOM thought my two-letter abbreviation was pretty optimal, sucka.


Posted by: DS | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:38 AM
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55: Please, DS. She prefers to go by YM these days.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:40 AM
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it's a foreign pronunciation, of course, but khan does not mean exactly khan in my language, it's khaan (khagan, in old writing)

In our language it's Khaaaaaan


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:42 AM
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My fond hope is that the Obama administration is doing the bare minimum wrt torture for the very reasons outlined in 9: anything they do can be undone. But they're hoping/planning/working behind the scenes to make the courts do the heavy lifting, which is, at least, in theory, much harder for a future administration to ignore or countermand. I know, there's little evidence that this is actually what's going through Obama's head. It's much more likely that he's ignoring torture because doing so is the politically expedient option. Like I said, it's just a fond hope.

19
or Bill O'Reilly can destroy me. I won't answer their calls.

Haven't you heard? His people don't use the phone; they'll be waiting at your door.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:47 AM
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Oops, too many commas in 58.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 8:48 AM
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Paranoid? Rahm Emmanuel or Dahlia Lithwick or Bill O'Reilly can destroy me. I won't answer their calls.

This is awesome. I'm imagining Dalia Lithwick hunched over her laptop late at night with a crazed look in her eyes, typing "bob mcmanus delenda est" over and over again.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 9:02 AM
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45: Well we're both going straight to hell then.

Here come Canadians. It's because it's finally spring up here.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 9:05 AM
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Here come Canadians.

And there goes the neighborhood . . . .


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 9:08 AM
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Does anyone like the theory that the whole teabag theater production is a deliberate effort to distract and shout over the push to prosecute our war criminals? Or am I just paranoid?


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:01 AM
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I really don't like the story in 32.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:06 AM
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64: Yeah, any realistic examination of how we treat our domestic prisoners kinda puts lie to the notion that the way we treated foreign prisoners over the past decade plus is some sort of un-American aberration.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:20 AM
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Horrfying, wasn't it. I was thinking about posting on it, but I've been very low energy on posting lately, and didn't think just slapping up a link would do it justice.

A neat wrinkle that didn't get addressed much in the article is the effect on mentally ill prisoners, who usually aren't being provided with proper psychiatric care or medication. (I'm familiar with this from some probono work I did ages and ages ago.) You get this horrible cycle where some poor shlub with psychiatric issues violates prison rules in some regard, and gets sentenced to solitary (the NJ term is "administrative segregation". Solitary is too comprehensible.).

After a month in solitary, he's completely decompensated, and become unable to follow prison rules at all, so he gets sentenced to more and more time in ad seg, getting more and more damaged. These guys also end up serving much longer sentences than sane prisoners, who usually get paroled after serving some portion of the sentence: prisoners who are too ill to function appropriately in the prison environment end up never qualifying for parole.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:21 AM
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On the topic of the post, I thought this was worth reading.

I'm really going to be very, very unhappy if there are no consequnces for all of this. I'd probably prefer consequences at the top of the food chain instead of at the bottom, but I could deal with consequences for the actors on the bottom rung (since really, it's well established that some orders should not be followed). But no consequnces at all, for anyone, is looking increasingly likely. And that makes me feel ill.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:23 AM
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Yeah, The "I was only following orders" defense doesn't look any better if the orders are sanitized by a lawyer, where the legal issues aren't inaccessible to a layperson as here. And the lawyers should be prosecuted as participants in a conspiracy to torture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:30 AM
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Unexpectedly, I think the hilarious about-face by right-wingers back toward "Government is evil and spies on everyone, especially me" is the only hope for investigating any crimes the Bush administration committed. Cries of hypocrisy will be muted.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:36 AM
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Cryptic Ned is a staunch optimist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:42 AM
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68: yeah, 67 was probably unclear. I'd prefer everyone involved be prosecuted. In descending order or preference, my desired list of prosecutees is everyone-->big fish-->little fish-->nobody. But (and this was the main point of 67, although there's no reason anyone would have been able to decipher it) my level of satisfaction with any of the first three options is relatively tightly clustered, whereas there a giant chasm of disappointment between #3 and #4.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 10:45 AM
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Here's the thing about "just following orders": the US has a not-awful record WRT people in the field doing freelance torture/abuse. It mostly has happened with explicit or implicit approval/direction from above. So I feel that, if we can get people in top positions to be afraid to order torture*, then we're not going to see much torture. Whereas, unless you really come down hard on the field people, the next batch of field people who are encouraged to torture won't be deterred by the threat of future prosecution.

IOW, the punishment of Lynndie England and Charles Graner has obviously not stopped any other American from abusing and humiliating prisoners. But (I believe) any kind of faintly serious punishment (I'm thinking 5 years minimum, plus no future gov't employment) for Bybee, Yoo, et al. would have a serious deterrent effect on future OLC types. These assholes did what they did because they saw no downside to it, except maybe some DFHs calling them bad names.

That said, of course I want them all brought before the courts and punished for what they did. But I have no problem distinguishing between the two classes.

* and it's not like you'd have to hang Yoo and Bybee to create fear; a stiff prison sentence would do the trick, I would think


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 11:32 AM
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not like you'd have to hang Yoo and Bybee to create fear

Could we do it just for our own satisfaction, then?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 12:45 PM
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66: But warehousing the seriously mentally ill in prisons is cheaper, or at least easier, than treating them, so what the hell.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 12:49 PM
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I just googled "a year of" and the first result was "A Year of Crockpotting."

I am intrigued by how this feature works. It seems customized in some strange way. Your phrase came up second for me - "a year of mornings" was first.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 04-17-09 12:51 PM
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I somehow misread that as 'a year of crackspotting' which I was thinking was like trainspotting, but about crack. (I never actually saw trainspotting but it has been described to me.)


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-19-09 7:06 AM
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Did Becks really write "interrogation memos" for "torture memos"?

Oy.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 04-21-09 7:57 AM
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